Violent Muni altercation caught on tape

February 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The driver of a San Francisco Muni bus was caught on tape Tuesday in a violent confrontation with a passenger. Another person on that bus has turned over the video to the ABC7 News I-Team.

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The person who shot the tape called the I-Team because he has seen all the stories we have done about the problems aboard Muni buses. We acquired many surveillance videos under the Sunshine Ordinance, but today this man called with his own tape.

The videographer who shot the tape does not want to be identified. He rides Muni often and doesn't want to be involved in a confrontation himself because he is coming forward.

Tuesday brought another crowded ride on the 33 outbound, heading up Ashbury Street toward Potrero Hill.

"This was a packed bus... there was no more room for anyone to get on this bus," said the witness.

The videographer says about 10 children from the French school boarded the bus at this stop -- the driver shouted for passengers to move back.

"And this kind of elderly gentleman who may have been homeless, possibly, was like there's no more moving back, shut the f*** up," said the witness.

The Muni driver answered with his own strong language.

"And the bus driver was like cursing at him like, get the 'f' off the bus you drunk 'f,' you know?" said the witness.

The videographer says the man agreed to get off the bus, but tension hung in the air.

"I mean, at that point I was trying to get my camera going because I was like this is intense, the bus driver just like jumped off, opened the door and jumped out and pushed this guy," recalled the witness.

That's when the video picks up. It shows the Muni driver standing over the passenger and another passenger tries to calm down the driver.

"The old man is like on the ground and the Muni driver has his hand around his neck," said the witness.

The man on the ground tries to get up -- the driver won't let him and cocks his arm as if to punch. Remember, there are children on the bus taking it all in. You can hear a woman on the video trying to keep them calm. "Those are the peacemakers. Those guys who are talking, these guys are peacemakers."

A female passenger tries to intervene. The driver apparently tells her to take her hand off his shoulder and then let's the man up, who continues his tirade.

"I'll give it to him that this man was disrespectful, he was saying rude things, you know, but at no point did he touch the bus driver. At no point was he really a threat to the bus driver because he was off the bus," said the witness.

Muni would not comment on this latest incident, except to say it is a violation for a driver to get off the bus and confront a passenger. This isn't the first time the I-Team has caught Muni behaving badly.

From accidents that injure passengers, to rude drivers. One driver refused to stop after a child's foot got stuck in the door. Another wouldn't pick up a woman in a wheelchair. We've seen it all.

And now, this.

"To me that was the injustice, the bus driver could have done what he should have done as a professional and closed the door and moved on," said the witness.

The driver may have broken Muni's rules and perhaps the law. We showed the tape to ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

"Given the facts that we've been told, this is a classic assault. If I'm a prosecutor in this case with this set of facts coming across my desk, I'm probably going to file misdemeanor assault and battery charges," said Johnson.

The SFPD tells the I-Team there was no police report filed in the incident. Late Wednesday Muni released a statement saying they launched an investigation after the I-Team brought it to their attention and have placed the employee onn non-driving status.

You can see the entire raw video in a new I-Team blog here.

Previous I-Team reports:

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